Saturday, September 26, 2009

First Day on Tour

Today's route: Zimbali to Manzini  172 miles.   (Google Earth file)

Today was a fantastic day - and the start of the tour.

At 8.30 this morning, John White lined all the cars up, and one by one we were waved off under the swoop of a large South African flag. This was the moment we had all been waiting for after almost 3 years of planning.

The route today was gentle and easy. Leaving Zimbali on the N2, we headed northeast, parallel to the coast, and through the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Undulating hills, green with the thick field of sugar cane stretched out before us. On either side as we drove, people whistled and waved,cars flashed their lights and trucks blew their horns.

In and amongst the sugar cane fields, small villages of round huts with thatched roofs were sprinkled, each alive and colorful. Cattle occasionally would come to the road. At each petrol stop, the cars were surrounded by people, each wanting to learn a little something about these wonderful machines.

Arriving at lunch, we entered the Zululand Tree Lodge - a private game resort. Impala were sighted on the way in. A wonde3rful buffett lunch of lamb, chicken, beef stew, salads, vegetables and deserts was enjoyed overlooking a small watering hole - where several Nyala came to drink. It was spectacular.

A short run of 35 miles to our day's stop - Ghost Mountain Ranch. The car performed well - and the overdrive is just terrific.

As we entered the ranch, Zuku dancers lines both sides of the road in full dress, the drums and dancing frenetic. Unbeleivable. Once checked in, we had a sunset cruise on the very large lake - spotted hippo, amazing birdlife and several antelope species.

The night ended with a terrific display of Zulu dancing around a large fire, and then another magnificent dinner. At this eating rate, I'll have to have the car's springs re-arched to support us by the end of this tour.

Tomorrow is a rest day - morning and evening game safaris (and more food)

Friday, September 25, 2009

We are reunited

Today we finally got to the docks to retrieve the cars. After a terrific breakfast, we all boared a large motorcoach and took the trip to thte docks. On arrival, all the containers were in a row, they opened the doors and there they were.

We removed the tie-downs, and pushed Bertie out. Looking pretty good for his trip, I checked out oil etc - but he did not start. A quick fiddle around, and all was well.  We simply drove out the docks - no paperwork at all - John and Stuart had done a magnificent job of organization minimizing our hassle to zero. A quick fill up, and then headed north back to Zimbali Lodge... or so we thought.

Navigating Durban traffic and streets is an excercise in itself. A few wrong turns, but we managed to find the main beach road (Marine Parade) and we knew that would get up back. We had a great 39 mile run back to the hotel - where we parked, lubricated and are ready for our start tomorrow.

We set off around 8.30 am for Ghost Mountain Inn in Mkuzi - about 170 miles or so.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

And so have we

We have just arrived at Zimbalai Lodge, north of Durban.  The flight from Atlanta was uneventful for us, but two other participants were not so lucky having missed their flights to Atlanta due to the poor weather and flooding in Atlanta. They will arrive over the next 2 days.

Had a lovely dinner at the airport, as we were met by Linda's mom for the 2 hour layover we had. Then, a short one hour flight to Durban and an hour's drive to Zimbali.

We ran into Bill and Kris Kennedy, as well as Matt Sysack, Bob Brod and Stuart Maxwell, but being 11.30 pm - it's time for bed.

Raining persistantly.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bertie has made it

After a long sea voyage, Bertie has made it to Durban and is currently in the docks awaiting offloading from the ship.  We will pick the car up on Friday.